8-1-19 Best of the Valley

Sun Publisher Mark Guerringue (top, center) captures a shot of the large crowd that gathered to see the results of the 2019 Best of the Valley at Tuckerman Brewing Co. in Conway on July 30. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

CONWAY — Thirty years of publishing, and still going strong.

Mark Guerringue, publisher of The Conway Daily Sun, will be the recipient of the 2019 Bob Morrell Award for civic entrepreneurship at the annual business meeting/dinner of the Mt. Washington Valley Economic Council on Nov. 21 at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway.

Presented by Economic Council Executive Director Jac Cuddy and Morrell Award Committee members (including Gail Paine, Chuck Henderson and Tom Eastman), the award recognizes the qualities and values Morrell (1920-98), exemplified by co-founder of Story Land and former White Mountain Bank founding member, exemplified.

The award has been given out annually since 1998, when ski pioneers Kay Reed and Betty Whitney were honored.

Noted Cuddy: “Mark and I have long been friends, and I salute his and the Sun’s commitment to the valley and I think it is appropriate to give the Morrell award to Mark in recognition of the paper’s role in the community."

It was three decades ago that Guerringue and Adam Hirshan, with the financial support of Aspen Daily Sun founder Dave Danforth, set about creating a free local daily newspaper.

“Today. Tomorrow. Yesterday,” Guerringue, founding publisher wrote in that first issue. “Simple words, but ones you will see frequently in The Conway Daily Sun. They imply immediacy — which is what we’re all about … Day in and day out, our goal is to present fair and accurate reporting, explore the issues facing all of us (both the good and the bad) and not the least, entertain you.”

Added Hirshan, founding editor, “Our mission is simple: ‘Seeking the truth, and printing it.’"

(As testament to those goals, The Conway Daily Sun this year took first place in general excellence at the 2019 New Hampshire Press Association Distinguished Journalism Contest, beating both the Concord Monitor and Union Leader.)

Back in 1989, in a publishing climate of weeklies — The Mountain Ear, North Conway Reporter, Carroll County Independent and the Irregular — the daily with an attitude made an immediate impact.

The paper’s first issue was published on Jan. 23, 1989.

Among the first advertisers on the front page? Langdon’s North Country Outlet, 93.5 WMWV Mt. Washington Valley and Leavitt’s Country Bakery.

Other first advertisers included British Imports Outlet & International Sportswear Collection; Shops at Settlers’ Green; Chuck Roast; North Conway Bank (carrying the following words: “The old nobility would have survived if they had known enough to become masters of printing materials” by Napoleon Bonaparte); Kennedy Studios; Jerry’s Furniture; White Mountain Oil Inc.; Village Variety; Saco Travel and Attitash Realty, advertising an 8.75 percent interest rate for a cozy four-bedroom farmhouse for $149,000.

The Letters page contained congratulatory messages from Kearsarge resident Dave Van Note and then U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey, the latter of whom talked about the tension and give-and-take that exists between the press and government.

Over the past decades, The Conway Daily Sun (which later branched out to include The Berlin Sun and later the Laconia Daily Sun, with Hirshan serving as publisher for the past dozen years) has become a daily staple of life in the valley, continues to thrive under Guerringue’s leadership as a forum for ideas and information.

In addition to the newspaper, The Sun also produces North Conway Magazine and dining guides, the Best of Mount Washington Valley Readers Choice Awards and the Home Garden Flower Show with Cannabis. Daily circulation for the Conway Sun is 16,500; the Laconian Sun, 18,500; and Berlin Sun, 9,800.

Through the efforts of Associate Publisher Joyce Brothers and Managing Editor Margaret McKenzie, along with a hard-working staff of writers, sales representatives, front office, graphics and press room employees, the paper offers local coverage as well as state and national news Tuesday-Friday as well as an expanded weekend edition that comes out each Saturday.

In addition, Guerringue with IT specialist Rob Struble have established a large digital audience thanks to an award-winning website that generates a half-million page views a month.

Through it all, the paper has been a staunch supporter of the community and gives white space and advertising to non-profits.

Last year’s Morrell Award recipient was Jen’s Friends. Other winners have included WBNC-WMWV radio station owners Skip and Joan Sherman; George Epstein of the Echo Group; late Mountain Ear co-founder Steve Eastman; community benefactor Bob Murphy of the Ham Foundation; business leader Terry O’Brien of the Red Parka Pub; Janice Crawford, executive director of the MWV Chamber of Commerce; Dwight A. Smith and Russ Seybold of the Conway Scenic Railroad; the Sherman and Weston farming families; David Peterson and Peter Edwards of Zeb’s General Store; and Dot Seybold, general manager of Settlers Green and president of the Vaughan Center for Community Service Inc.

Reservations for the Nov. 21 dinner may be made by calling the MWV Economic Council at (603) 447-6622.

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